Mayoral Matters June 2023

Published on 01 June 2023

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I was very pleased to hear the announcement of West Wimmera Health Services (WWHS) as our new home-based aged care provider for Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) clients from 1 July 2023.  Hindmarsh Shire has chosen to opt out of the service along with many other councils due to new regulations that made our position basically untenable.

We have a strong relationship with WWHS and we anticipate a very smooth transition for our elderly residents who require the vital care and help this service provides. Our aim is for the clients to remain with the same staff member they have developed a relationship with, where possible, just under a new provider.  In the whole process, the wellbeing of the clients was at the front of every bodies mind. The clients are already familiar with the name WWHS and WWHS have a strong understanding of the Hindmarsh community, so this is also a positive.

As winter approaches we once again face the "ever challenging" problem of road maintenance within our shire. I am sure if we were asked if the road network is where we want it after last season’s extremely wet season – the honest answer would be no. I ask everybody for their continued patience as we address the ongoing maintenance and rehabilitation costs across our 3,000km road network. Every pothole, rough patch or edge break is important to someone, whether you are driving that road every day or its critical to getting your crops in or out – we are continuously inspecting our network and prioritising which tasks to do first with the minimal funds available and inflation hitting road making materials in a significant way at over 12%. Carrying out short term fixes may solve the problem today – but as seen on the Highways, the quick fixes don’t last long and take funds away from more substantial, long-term road rehabilitation.

The Wimmera Mallee Pioneer Museum will be hosting its rally weekend over the Kings birthday in Jeparit on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 June. If anybody is looking for something to do, come along and enjoy the many exhibits, food, and wonderful ambience this museum provides next to the Wimmera River. Gates open at 10am on both days and I encourage you not to miss this opportunity to see machinery from previous years in operation, and ride in a horse drawn carriage.

I was interested to read recently that we are looking to decrease carbon emissions by up to 80 percent by 2035 and to net zero by 2045 (bought forward from 2050). Now the average grain farmer has around 30-40 petrol or diesel engines on a farm made up of utes, tractors, headers, boom sprays, augers, pumps and generators etc that are all required to run a farming enterprise. The cost of these adds into the multiple million-dollar range.

Importantly – these machines put food on the table for the population and we need to find a way to make the policy decision makers understand that farmers are always early adopters of technology, always looking for efficiencies and always care about the environment and land in particular – it’s in their blood and how they make a living.

So, we look forward to working alongside the peak agricultural advisory bodies and policy makers to trial innovative and practical ways to reduce the agricultural industries emissions while ensuring we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

“When are we having this conversation”.

Cr Brett Ireland

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